Dazzle is kind of the odd duck in the list, as it was not designed to hide it’s wearer’s location, but it’s movement. It operated off of the same principle as zebra stripes and “consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors, interrupting and intersecting each other”. Naval scouts once had to use their eyes to determine the location and movement of enemy ships and Dazzle Camo make speed, direction, and even size much more difficult to discern. Over 2,000 ships were Dazzled in WW2 as Sonar became much more prominent.
MarPat was the United States Marine Corps first digital camo and was implemented throughout the entire Marine Forces in 2001. The color scheme seeks to update the US Woodland pattern into a pixelated micropattern. Although the Marines will tell you they came up with it independently, CadPat‘s influence is pretty obvious.
Pioneered by the Canadian Forces in 1996, CadPat was the world’s first digital camo pattern. Traditional camouflage like the ones we’ve talked about, use macropatterns which have sharp outlines and are easier to see. Digital camo, however, uses pixelated micropatterns which blur together and dither at a distance making them more difficult to pick out. This breakthrough revolutionized military camouflage and almost all modern armed forces use some forms of pixelated camo.
Designed to blend into any type of terrain, weather, or lighting conditions. Multicam is the all-season tire of the camo world. Crye Precision developed Multicam in 2003 for American troops in Afghanistan who regularly move between alpine and desert, but needed one set of fatigues. The Iguana-like pattern has over a hundred separate image layers and several spectrums of color composited into every swatch so that the observers eye sees the colors that are the most like the environment. This cutting edge design is a favorite for more technical outfitters.
This camo won a West German Army contest for designers in the mid 70’s and soon became standard issue for German troops. The Leopard-like pattern took Europe by storm in the same way as Woodland did in North America. As such, Flecktarn is often too commonplace for many European designers looking to stand out, but the mystique of the pattern remains intact in North America.
This design may look like something you’d see on an ikea shower curtain, but the Splinter pattern is another German Air Force invention from WW2 and describes the angular geometric shapes that look like splintered glass. The Luftwaffe design faded from military use shortly after the end of the war, but it’s bauhaus aesthetic has made it a favorite of minimalistic labels like A.P.C.
This is a 6 color pattern originally developed by the US Army in 1981, the name comes from the black spots designed to mimic rocks that give the pattern a cookie dough look. A favorite for desert warfare, the pattern has been adopted by militaries from South Korea and Iraq to all over Africa.